If you have pelvic or sexual pain your doctor may have recommended you do pelvic floor physical therapy. Other recommendations may have also included dilator therapy or getting injections or using suppositories. These treatments not only require time, energy and financial resources, but they can also be triggering for those with trauma in their past. Sexual trauma, medical trauma, an abusive relationship, etc. may get reactivated when undergoing these treatments. Signs that you may need to seek counseling to work through past traumatic experiences include:
- You find yourself preoccupied with memories of the trauma: If you find yourself having intrusive memories about your trauma since you started treatment, this is a sign counseling is likely needed. If traumatic memories continue to get stirred up by undergoing treatment, you will likely start to avoid treatment, leaving stuck with pelvic or sexual pain.
- You have nightmares or difficulty sleeping: Some clients report noticing more nightmares or difficulty sleeping when their past traumatic experiences get reactivated. Having nightmares or difficulty sleeping is another sign that your traumatic experiences may need to be dealt with in counseling. Poor sleep will also prevent you from getting the adequate rest your body needs to heal.
- Treatment actually triggers memories of the trauma: During treatment (like pelvic floor physical therapy or dilator therapy for instance) if your past traumatic memories pop into your head this is a huge red flag that seeking counseling is necessary.
- You feel stuck and are unsure why: Sometimes there is just a general feeling that treatment is not working or that there is little progress. Unconsciously there may be a block, preventing you from making progress.
- You have high levels of anxiety and depression: A sudden increase in anxiety or depression may mean a past traumatic experience needs to be addressed in counseling. If your anxiety or depression goes unchecked it may make progress difficult.
- You feel dissociated or numb: What may appear to be compliance in treatment sometimes can be dissociation. If dissociation is occurring during treatment you should explore why this is occurring.
- You are unable to enjoy sexual activities: Pelvic or sexual pain was already impacting your sexual enjoyment. However if outercourse activities are also unpleasurable or you find yourself avoiding all types of physical contact this could be a sign that a past traumatic experience needs to be addressed.
- You notice you are guarding or clenching your pelvic floor: Once clients begin pelvic floor physical therapy or dilator therapy sometimes they discover that most of the time they are guarding or clenching their pelvic floor. This guarding and clenching will keep the pelvic floor too tight, making progress very difficult. Sometimes this guarding and clenching is a sign that a past traumatic experience needs to be dealt with.
If you find the above experiences resonating with you, consider seeking counseling to address any past traumatic experiences that may be blocking your progress. It is common for old traumas to get stirred up by the medical treatment of pelvic and sexual pain conditions due to the nature of the treatments. However, you can address your trauma and other barriers that are interring with your progress by going to counseling.